YEREVAN (Panorama.am by Nvard Chalikyan) Azerbaijan has recently intensified the ceasefire breaches, mounting attacks not only on the territory of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic but also the Republic of Armenia, claiming that it has the right to establish control over Nagorno Karabakh by military means. As Azerbaijani propaganda continues to distort facts presenting Azerbaijan as a victim and Armenia as an aggressor, there is a need to once again recall the actual realities of the conflict and who is responsible for the current situation. On this issue Panorama.am has spoken to member of the British House of Lords Barones Cox who personally visited the region for over 60 times during the war and together with an international group of experts thoroughly studied the situation on the ground.

Commenting on Azerbaijani propaganda which presents Azerbaijan as victim to Armenian aggression, Caroline Cox said, “First of all I would never say Armenians are aggressors, that is a lie – it was Azerbaijan that attempted ethnic cleansing of the Armenians from Nagorno Karabakh back in 1991-1992, it was Azerbaijan that unleashed ferocious military offensive against the civilians in Nagorno Karabakh – for instance in the capital of Nagorno Karabakh Stepanakert we observed 400 grad missiles a day fired by the Azeris on the civilians. It was Azerbaijan who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by carrying out massacre of civilians in the village of Maraga.”

Asked whether she thinks that Nagorno Karabakh, because of continuous genocidal policies of Azerbaijan against Armenians, qualifies as an exceptional case in which international law grants the right to secession and independence (as it was the case with Kosovo) Baroness Cox replied, “Yes, it does qualify as such. I believe that the Armenians of Karabakh can never again accept sovereignty by Azerbaijan because they have been subjected to attempted genocide and ethnic cleansing. There is much evidence on this. President of Azerbaijan Elchibey has explicitly declared, “If there is a single Armenian left in Karabakh, the people of Azerbaijan can hang me in the central square of Baku”. This is a very clear and explicit policy of elimination of Armenians from Nagorno Karabakh – that amounts to ethnic cleansing and genocide. This was a war against civilians which was completely unacceptable in which many atrocities were carried out. Me and my colleague made a publication way back in 1990s giving a lot of evidence of Azerbaijan aggression against the Armenians in Karabakh in what we called “Ethnic cleansing in progress: War in Nagorno Karabakh”. We were there as eyewitnesses many times in the war and I believe that Armenians in Karabakh have as much right for consideration of independence as the people of Kosovo.”

Commenting on the current negotiation process Baroness Cox highlighted the need for the people of Nagorno Karabakh to be involved in the process, as it is their future which is at stake. She also said that there would need to be very very serious security guarantees for the Armenian side if a peace deal is concluded. Regarding the position of the parties Cox said “I think the Armenian position is a very reasonable one while it is Azerbaijan who refuses to cede. I wish Azerbaijan would undertake some confidence building measures instead of going on to escalate the hostile propaganda.”

“My heart is always with the Armenian people who has suffered too much and too long. I have respect for the courage of your people and I say ‘thank you’ for you have become an example of freedom for the rest of the world against the attempted ethnic cleansing,” added Baroness Cox in conclusion.

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